by Essdras M Suarez, Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographer

cap·ta·tion [kapˈtāshən]
definition:  An attempt to achieve or acquire something especially artfully; reaching after

All Articles by Essdras M Suarez

Continuous Shooting Mode VS Single Shooting Mode and Street Photography

When it comes to photographing people, the difference between a so-so photo and a great photo is usually determined by fractions of a second and minute differences in body position.  There are myriad of examples of human actions that require many steps such as hugging, kissing, walking, etc.

So if you learn to identify what peak action or decisive moments in these sequences are, then you are a step ahead of the curve when it comes to telling a story with your images.

For someone like me, a professional visual storyteller with deadlines to meet and expectations to fulfill. Then using all available tools found in my photographic devices, such as continuous shooting mode, just plain makes sense.

Lets us take a look at a basic and often photographed human action: walking.

Natick, MA 022009   After a long day of shopping at the American Girl store at  the Natick Collection Mall on February 20, 2009 friends Olivia Norton (Cq), 7, of Norwood (left) and Nicole Smigliani (cq), 7, of Hyde Park head back to their car with bags full of dolls.

When a viewer looking at your photo is able to recognize right away that someone in your frame is walking then you’ve already fulfill part of the story telling process.

Our brain’s ability to conclude movement in a situation like this is called: motion perception.

According to science: Motion perception is the process by which our brains infer speed and direction in a scene based on visual perception- what we see- and proprioception- what we feel- inference or projection. The latter being the ability to predict or anticipate movement in others based upon our own historical and empirical experience.

…confusing, right?

However, know I gave you this convoluted explanation for a reason. Our brain doesn’t really need all of the details behind an action in order for it to come to its own conclusion.

The same way we as photographers don’t need to show a sequence of images in order to depict an action if we manage to capture and then choose the right moment from within a sequence.

One of the reasons why photos depicting “fleeting moments” or “decisive moments” can immediately be recognized as good photos has to do more than anything else with how fast our brains can recognize the nature of said peak action and how fast we can relate to these images.

suarez festival column April 3

Every waking second, our brains are collecting massive amounts of visual data. This data in turn is processed and given back to our conscious mind as quick-easy- to-recognize packets of condensed information.

The quicker you can make the viewer’s brain realize you were photographing a person in the process of walking then the faster the brain will be able to relate to this image.

So having quintessential images depicting someone walking, such as were a foot is off the ground, and or where the legs are fully extended in mid stride, become of the utmost importance. Thus having a sequence of images to choose from makes our job easier.

And what is the easiest way of having options when photographing people in action? The answer is simple, by shooting in sequences. In other words don’t let your continuous- high- shooting mode go to waste. Use it.

But always remember it is the quick- thinking, flexible and nimble shooter who gets the photo.

                                KEEP SHOOTING, KEEP MOVING, KEEP ADJUSTING


Essdras M Suarez for photowrkshop dir

me by tom for Nikon


A two-time Pulitzer prizewinner, Essdras M Suarez worked as a photojournalist for over 20 years, the last 12 with the Boston Globe.  He’s also received multiple awards for his portrait, food, product and travel photography.  His images have been published in such well-recognized publications as the National Geographic, Time Magazine, New York Times and Washington Post and many more national and international publications. Having worked in over 60 countries around the world, he is now based Alexandria, VA, where he established EMS Photo Adventures to enable the sharing of the diverse experience and knowledge gained as a photojournalist to the photo enthusiast.

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